Millard 8 9 & 13

September 18, 2010

It is interesting to analyze how the progression of sound snowballed into what it is today. The Great Depression limited pockets to necessities. Customers of the home record decreased, while they flocked in great masses to be a part of the “talking picture.” The slump in economy represented the start of conglomerates. Seeing the business opportunity, Ted Lewis and Louis Sterling bought bankrupt record companies and merged them. This move proved to be profitable for the entrepreneurs. Sterling’s ARC was the second largest record company in America, and Lewis’s Decca was also considered a leading company. Both companies profited from the juke box.

The Depression popularized radio because it was free. I found it even more so depressing that it was a hit with our soldiers of WW2. They mostly listened to swing, but requested the sound of sizzling steak, and the busy streets of New York.

Swing was the next big thing. The new technology favoured a different frequency of voices. Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington and Count Basie helped the nation “swing through the war.” The ambitions of Sterling and Lewis carried on to the realm of film.  Companies wanted to own the music they featured. Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby popularized music through this new medium.

It was interesting reading about how booms came into being. I didn’t think it required that extent of skill to create Citizen Kane. I worked on a few productions and thought the sound dept. a bit weird. They would put the boom to your mouth during conversations since they always kept their headsets on. I guess the fluffiness of the boom acted as the animal fur of the 40’s. Cow hair, or horse hair was put on the walls to prevent the reverberation.

I think music in this era was limited. Despite the intense skill required to undergo the series of complicated procedures associated with recording, recording limited popular music. It’s either you had the voice or you didn’t. It was difficult to alter technology to suit a very high voice.

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2 Responses to “Millard 8 9 & 13”

  1.   Amy Herzog Says:

    Great post, Karina. I was also struck by the anecdote about the broadcast of everyday sounds to soldiers overseas. As heartbreaking as that story is, it’s also an indication of how much we can invest in sound recordings, emotionally– the “realness” of the recording has a certain power to comfort us.

    And those poor sound technicians– try not to be too hard on them, even if they are a bit eccentric 🙂

  2.   brian morrissey Says:

    Readin your article about how the nation was affected both in terms of technological advancement and industrial advancement during a depression and a war only made me wonder as to what is to become of the music industry in our current economic plight and war situation. Perhaps the music industry hereafter might see another surge in both the entertaining of the troops abroad as well as a surge in record production upon their return. The bottom line is, whenever there is economic harship in this country, or anyone for that matter; people will almost always turn to means of entertainment for that temporary escape from it all. Music always has been and will likely always will be a conveniant yet effective source of that relaxation and escape. Furthermore it can provide us with certain motivations and feeling of commonality which we feel we might otherwise be laking.

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